Students came to Forum from a whole host of different places. Some came off the back of a spiritually uplifting summer while others felt as though they were in a season of drought. As 1000 students entered the main meeting on the first night, they were met with this message:
‘Just as Jesus is welcomed and accepted by His Father, so you are welcomed and accepted by the Father, because we are hidden in Christ.’
Having heard from Colossians 2:6-16, 3:1-4, students spilled out of the marquee buzzing with rich theological discussions and deep in conversations. ‘That was so grace-filled and Jesus-focussed,' said one. Another, ‘honestly, I was apprehensive about coming and had the mindset of “just get through the week – I’ve already paid!” After this first evening, I feel so welcomed and loved!’
And so the tone for the week had been set. The content – morning Bible readings in Titus and evenings on the theme ‘In Him’ – was matched in the form – each day seeped in prayer, Christ be magnified sung loudly late into the night, relational warmth extended to all.
For many, Forum was a time to process challenges they’d faced over the past year and be refreshed. ‘There’s something about brushing your teeth outside before sunrise in your winter coat over pyjamas that deepens friendships’, shares Jemima Matthews, CU Staff Worker (CUSW) in the Midlands. Staff and students alike valued these unrivalled opportunities for relationship building. One student from De Montfort CU reflected, ‘having the opportunity to bond and build friendships with others was amazing and I feel so much closer to everyone in CU now!’ As students began to open up with one another, they collectively deepened their faith and trust in Jesus.
Forum is so placed in the university calendar so CU members can pick up best practice tips for the year and make plans in response to hearing stories from other CUs and the teaching sessions. The menu was rich: seminars catering for each committee role; talks spanning topics such as the Holy Spirit, prayer, diversity, our humanity, and sexuality; discussions with the Leadership Networks on pursuing Christ in specific fields. Each afternoon, students would disperse from their regional campsite to various sessions only to return and share what they’d learnt, applying it to their university contexts.
Gathering around bowls of undercooked pasta or huddling for warmth around campfires, conversations bubbled as CU groups readied themselves for all God was calling them to in the year ahead. The energy and enthusiasm was infectious. Having heard of how God had moved across Great Britain through innovative mission events and distinctive communities, everyone left Forum planning creatively and praying expectantly.
The closing notes of Forum this year were a reminder that as Christians, we are ‘kept by Him’:
‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20).
He knows our frailties, our doubts, our fears. We can know that He is our guide, our comforter. He is always there, keeping us to the very end of the age. ‘Forum was a chance for students to recentre on Christ and be reminded of why we’re doing it. To continue serving Him faithfully, passionately, and centred on the power of the Spirit’, reflected Becca Nunes, CUSW in Wales. Students may have arrived from 1000 different contexts yet all left confident that living for Christ is the only way forward, even in the face of challenges in student life and witnessing on campus.
Every student saw that, whether they’re part of a CU of one or 100, they are partnering in the same mission, proclaiming the same gospel, united in one glorious Saviour.
Could you help us to continue equipping students to share their faith with their friends? Give today: uccf.org.uk/appeal.
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